Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rote Memorization

I woke up this morning quoting lines from this poem.
I know that sounds odd, but as part of my middle school education, I was required to memorize poetry. It annoyed me then, but now when phrases and verses pop into my head that were planted there so long ago, I'm thankful for the strong words of comfort or encouragement that appear like old friends when I need them most.
Incidentally, I was dismayed when I began teaching to hear that rote memorization was no longer valued and that it was considered an "uneducated" way to impart knowledge.
I disagree and firmly believe that it will always have a place in the education of willing minds.
I hope this speaks to you as it has to me all these years.
Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!


  1. A very good thing to have stuck in one's head. And hopes that such words are never lost.

  2. A delightfully good poem to wake up too!

  3. I found your blog by beadwork... But then I saw 'IF'. I also had to memorize this poem in Middle School. It must have been something done in that time, I graduated in 1978. I actually enjoyed poetry, and loved Shakespeare. I remember repeating each line over and over until it was committed to memory. I still remember pieces of it, I am 52, but... some looks new to me. So glad you included it in your blog. ...and your beadwork is Gorgeous!